Thursday, April 2, 2020

Video call to the world at the time of Coronavirus

Stories and News No. 1194
 
The video call’s time.
Who could believe that it would become a regular, unmissable and fundamental event during our every day.
It is for those who continue “to be” school, despite the necessary full-time curfew; for those who work remotely, if the job carried out up to the day before the so-called lockdown allows this chance; for people who intend to feel close to the loved ones, maybe living alone; and also for those who just want to have a good chat.
The video call’s time is a precious, useful and rewarding one. However, things don't always go as smoothly as we would like.
For instance, maybe the streaming with the professor's lesson becomes slow and the image lags, or arrives late. So, instead of providing IT advice, I invite students to remember that according to UNICEF data dating back to April last year, more than 175 million children - which correspond to half of the preschool population in the world - they are not even enrolled in kindergarten...
Of course, it is also true that we are not alone at home and we often connect together. It may happen that the broadband is congested and that the video freezes on the best moment.
Well, in that case let's remember that according to the Global Digital 2019 research of the "We are social" agency, about 43% of the world population does not have internet, 4 out of 10 people on the planet...
Okay, but staying closed at home because of the Coronavirus, that face-to-face dialogue, albeit a digital one, could be the only comfort of the day.
So, in that case let’s think back to the fact that almost one billion people in the world, or about 840 million, do not have access to electricity...
Okay, no problem, right? There is time, we all have more time. We can talk later, maybe after

dinner, when there are fewer people connected to the network. In the meantime we could enjoy the chance to take a walk at least at home, or even just two push-ups in the room.
Well, between one bend and another, annoyed by having the same walls before our eyes, we could keep in mind that one billion and six hundred million people in the world live without adequate shelter...
Fortunately, there is an excuse for shopping, right? Never as in these times we have found ourselves appreciating that short walk with the bage and maybe a note with the things to buy. But when we find the dust mask and the queue more annoying than other times, let’s try to focus on a 2019 FAO report; it says that over two billion people in the world do not have the opportunity to feed on safe food, while about 800 million don't even have that...
Then we go home and when the chosen moment arrives we try again to video call, since the others are all sleeping, now, and nothing can go wrong. Not before we washed our hands with care and attention, of course. And as we rub them let’s close our eyes and think of the words by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which estimated that two billion and two hundred million people in the world do not have drinking water services managed in safety, almost twice as many do not access to properly sanitized bathrooms and at least three billion cannot wash their hands...
Okay, finally we can connect, we warm up the PC, we search for the right App on the cell and I recommend, let's try not to talk about the usual daily charts, perhaps to share our alleged scientific opinion on the pandemic. We haven't all become doctors yet, right? Think if you lived in Africa, where each million people in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone there are only twenty-two doctors, in Niger and Malawi 19, and in Liberia there are 14, about one each hundred thousand...
Nonetheless, once the last virtual conversation of the day has ended, we cannot help but think of experiencing a difficult period.
There is a disease that kills outside and this scares us, inevitably and in a completely understandable way.
Therefore, when the fears become more distressing than usual, let's not forget the reality that still exists beyond the borders of our home, however closed. It tells us that, due to the aforementioned serious hygienic conditions, billions of people in the world, especially in the poorest and developing countries, they face the daily risk of contracting dangerous infectious diseases; and that only because of Tuberculosis in 2017 there were one million and six hundred thousand deaths; more than two hundred thousand of them were children.
This is the world that existed before our every video call and that is still out there, now, to face Coronavirus too and everything else...


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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Little Red Riding Hood and the Coronavirus

Stories and News No. 1193
 
History is teaching us. Short stories equally, but never as much as fairy tales.
Let's imagine, then. Let's imagine that Coronavirus has the boldness to infect also the vast realm of fantasy, proving to be just as fair as in the real world, making no distinction between tales, good and bad characters, undoubted protagonists and supporting actors.
Consequently, let's say that the notorious Covid 19 also spreads in the Little Red Riding Hood forest.
Well, I'm sure that mom would think twice about sending the little girl to bring sweets and medicine to her grandmother. Although she has certainly not worried in the past, given the presence of a ferocious and hungry wolf hidden in the bush. But I want to think positive. I always try to do it, and then we finally see the daddy in the picture. Since even in fairy tales the king's ordinance was needed to force him to stay at home.
Either way, this isn't the time for controversy, right? So, dad, mom and Little Red Riding Hood – which has now been renamed ‘Little Red Mask Staying at home’, get together on what to do: that poor old woman is alone in the woods. What if the virus infects her?
"I'll go get her," announces the father, finally on the field to take his responsibility. "I turn on the buggy, I fill up the horse and..."
"We have never had a buggy, dear..." his wife reminds him, the only person with a minimum of practical sense among the two.
"We could ask the hunter!" proposes Little Red Mask.
"Honey..." says Mum. “You can take that out at home. Besides, we’re not infected."
"Yes, but then how do they call the fairy tale?"
"You're right, my daughter."


"Anyway," says the father. "Little Red Mask is right."
"Daddy... couldn't you call me by my real name, for once?"
"Yeah," agrees the mother. "The thing is that... what's your name?"
"I see," the girl sighs, "let's move on."
"I said that Red is right, I hit him on the phone and..."
"What?" asked the other two in chorus.
"I take the telegraph and..."
"What?!" same as above.
"What about the Morse Code?"
"What are you talking about, dear?"
"All right!" her husband exclaims exasperated. "I'll send him a pigeon, is it good? Are racing pigeons okay?"
"Not at all, my love," his wife instantly chills him. “First, we don't have any pigeons. Second, even if we had them, given the queue at the market these days, we would do a better job cooking them than sending them around to carrying mails..."
"Mommy, what a cruelty!"
"Okay, okay, cancel the second one, honey. Third, I repeat third, the pigeon would never arrive to grandma , because that ravenous chasm disguised as a bad wolf would eat it in one bite, including the message for the hunter..."
At that moment there is a knock on the door.
"Who will it be?" asks Little Red Mask, Hiding Hood or whoever she really is.
"It could be grandma!" says the dad. "That old lady is really something..."
"No way, she's ninety-six, she's half-blind and has Alzheimer's in the fourth stage..." the mom reminds them.
"That's why the last time I went there she called me Gretel and wanted to eat me!" remember the little girl.
In short, all three go to the door and remain petrified, when in front of them they find the wolf standing upright, with a mask on its muzzle and a bundle of signs with sentences in sequence written above.
The scared woman is about to close the door, the man is moving back to grab the pitchfork he holds for security near the entrance, while the little girl is just very curious to know what the ferocious animal has to say.
"Wait," she says. "Let it talk."
The wolf nods to the girl, who responds in the same way, inviting the animal to show its message: we have been enemies by nature - we have also been enemies by the will of those who invented us - or only pitted us against each other to amuse the audience - but sometimes the moment comes when everyone's life depends on everyone's life - and when this happens, each one of us has the duty to forget about the character he was before - and the advantages that the story gave him - because only in this way we may succeed together.
So, it was up to the wolf to bring the precious basket to the grandmother and everyone survived happily ever after.

PS: Even if the old woman is still convinced that it was the Prince Charming with a strange fur and a two-day beard who brought her the gifts...


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Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus Italy Video: 100 silver linings of staying at home

Stories and News No. 1192
 
Facing the most difficult moments, my life experience and especially others, older than me, have often advised me, strongly urged, sometimes forced, to concentrate on the full half of the water glass.
It frequently works, at least in seeking out that minimum of power so as not to let yourself be cut down more than necessary.
In some cases, rather than identifying the famous silver lining of things, it helps us to pay attention to the glass itself.
Full or empty it might be.
Yes, a common and normally underestimated object, the glass, like most of the tools we usually take advantage of.
Like our home, where in this particular situation we in Italy and many other countries are forced to stay.
Well, consistently with what has been said, I do it for myself and for the reader.
I try to list as many favorable aspects in this extraordinary as necessary captivity which we find ourselves in.


1. Home-bound we have more time for ourselves
2. More time to talk to those we share the roof with
3. More time to listen to them
4. More time to understand them
5. We run less and we experience the value of slowness
6. We notice for the first time details that we have before our eyes every day
7. Finally we have no more excuses to fix what's broken
8. To paint that wall
9. To tidy up that closet
10. To throw the useless
11. And to refurbish what is precious
12. We can read more
13. We can write more
14. We can laugh without being hurry to quit
15. We can make love without haste
16. We can make love in the morning
17. And we can make love the day time we never did it
18. We are experiencing what it means to be afraid of the same thing and it's real
19. And maybe some will stop being afraid of the same thing, but that never really existed
20. We can play with our children without thinking about before and after
21. We can play with our parents without thinking, period
22. We can play all possible games with our brothers and sisters, as there is time for each one of them
23. We decide our own time
24. That is, we only harmonize it with those we desire
25. We remember what it meant to call someone from far away, if only to hear his voice, because now it affects all our friends and acquaintances
26. We are forced to leave the house only for a valid reason and this will prevent us from running away, only to choose to go or not
27. With the antivirus masks we all become the same in appearance, and all infinitely different below, just as before
28. When we approach the window we look at the world outside with affection
29. We miss everything, from the sun's rays
30. To the rain
31. From the breeze on the face
32. To pebbles that get into shoes
33. From the good morning of the neighbor before resuming the usual run
34. To the moment right before getting off the subway train
35. We take the car less or almost nothing
36. So, we don't get stressed by traffic
37. We do not argue with the other prisoners of smog and scrap metal
38. We pollute less
39. We consume less oil
40. We slow down climate change and global warming, deniers or not
41. We have also time to think
42. To what we have said
43. And what we're about to say
44. To what we would not have done
45. And to what we want to do and we never took the time to think about it
46. We will quarrel, but we will have more opportunities to make peace
47. We will make peace and we will have more opportunities to understand why we had quarreled
48. We all face the same risk and, now, we all share the same desire to defeat it
49. We can better understand, even if only a little bit, what our grandparents told us about the fear of leaving home
50. We are dedicated to making our room more beautiful
51. We are dedicated to doing the same with those we love
52. We do it together
53. We do a world of things together again, which we used to do alone, despite living together
54. To eat
55. And to clear things
56. To cook
57. And to wash the dishes
58. To tidy toys up
59. Or even just watch a movie
60. We do normal things for the others that we have always had alongside
61. We wash him hair
62. We cut them
63. Or we simply comb them
64. We give her a shoulder massage
65. And we tell her nice things we never told her
66. Because there was no time and now there is
67. Consequently, there are no more excuses to not discuss the problems of a lifetime
68. We can calmly focus on many aspects of our existence, usually neglected
69. Our dreams
70. Those of others
71. Simple projects, but set aside
72. The impossible ones, but there is nothing wrong with taking them seriously, now
73. We can plan for tomorrow, illuminated by the light beyond the tunnel we took refuge in
74. Finally, we know how most human beings live every holy day
75. We know, finally, why for most of them our life is the light they lack
76. We learn to take care of our body to take care of our body, and not to get a like from who we meet on the way
77. Normal things will become extraordinary and it is also good
78. To shop
79. Buying milk
80. Bread
81. Fruits
82. Water
83. Or even some chocolate
84. Because, perhaps, we will no longer take them for granted when they’ll return to be just normal
85. We will understand better why we live with whom we live
86. Why we chose them
87. And why they chose us
88. Why we love them
89. And why we stopped doing it
90. Because only in this way we will have at least one chance to start again
91. Because stopping and starting again is often the only way to stop making the same mistakes
92. Never as at this time we have been attentive to the words of those who govern us
93. Never as at this time we have been attentive to the words of those who governed us before
94. And perhaps, never as in the near future we will be careful to who will govern us
95. Because it is in these moments we see who is reliable
96. And who takes care only of himself
97. A common problem to be tackled together is infinitely better to unite us than an invented enemy to divide us
98. It will be the most banal of all, but this is the best time to appreciate being healthy
99. Equally obvious, but true, we are alive and hopefully we will be so even when all this will be over
100. Coronavirus is equal, affects rich and poor, citizens of birth or just by desire, and the only way to defeat it is to remind ourselves that in this world we are all traveling on the same ship, whose name is still the one of the day we sailed

In one, rediscovered word: humanity.


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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Healthy first

Stories and News No. 1191
 
Dear Italian brother,
Yes, you got it right. Because this is what we are, brothers and sisters, facing the whole universe. Because everything is relative, as the genius showed, and more than ever now is the time to remember it.
We should all do this, human brothers and sisters. Taking lessons from history, past and present, which sees us more or less protagonists, in good and bad times. Especially where affected by the latter.
How many times have we invited you to consider the weight of mere luck, or inevitable fate, on our different living conditions?
How many times have we urged you, in short, to

put yourself in our shoes to understand and hopefully consider your fortune in all of that?
Well, as often happens in our common life, where the favorable moments do not manage to illuminate the vision, perhaps the miracle will succeed in adverse circumstances.
Take as a clarifying example the Coronavirus ghost and the contingency that sees you, in this period, under the terrifying and terrified lens of the world.
Now, although in slightly different situations, maybe you will understand what it means to be on a ship after a long journey and to be denied landing at a step from the coast.
Now it will be clear to you what it means to observe your country depicted as the one not to imitate.
You will also discover how quickly this equally viral, discriminatory and marginalizing form spreads in every area, including sport.
You will verify on your skin, until yesterday protected by the most privileged of shades, what effect the spread of fears towards might have.
You will know the daily outbreak of an uncontrolled concern about your people.
You will pay the price of an impulsive increase in controls by those in charge along the boundaries within which you have so far lived unaware of the future and above all the real consequences of your actions.
You will be studied for your discomfort instead of your qualities.
You will also experience the suffering and humiliation of an authoritarian ban.
You will be held up everywhere as a source of extremely uncomfortable records.
You will be identified as a threat to the rest of the world.
You will be associated with isolation.
Dangers.
Assimilated to senseless risks and anxieties.
Then, when the damage will be irreparable, as it has been and always will be, even the financial powers which you had always relied on will align in pointing the finger at you.
Branded as cancer of the international economy, and fatal bogeyman, a symbol of doom for all nations.
Dearest brother, can you understand now?
It's absurd, isn't it? Just a few days ago, like many in the world, you started doing the same with the Chinese citizens, and now you find yourself too in the guise of an alien on your own planet.
Think about it, please, let's take the positive side of this disease.
You know what is the most important thing?
That sooner or later the illness will be eradicated and everything will return to normal.
While the reason why you have discriminated and isolated other people, something that doesn’t need to be taken care of – but something to admire and be proud of, it will remain.
It doesn't have to end like this.
Not all evils come to harm, it is said. And maybe that's what we can get as good from this virus...


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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Killing words

Stories and News No. 1190
 
They said that the pen kill more than the sword.
It is probably true, even if today we have slightly lost its use. In our time we simply type keys, paying more or less attention to what we write, often forgetting what we said a second later.
However, this epochal change does not diminish the power of words at all. Indeed, paradoxically it has led us to underestimate its weight and consequences, in the short and long term. But the accountability, or the guilt, remains and someone will have to give us an answer about them, sooner or later.
Because words may kill. Literally. They translate crazy thoughts and terrifying intentions.
Like when Tobias Rathien, the man who murdered eleven people and seriously injuring four others in Hanau, Germany, declared that some people we are unable to expel must be exterminated.

But words are like the grains of sand on which we run in the summer. We unfortunately share them as every atom of the earth that hosts us, from which we come to light and, at the end of the day called life, we will return. Light or chaotic they transit between each one of us, from the rich to the poor, from the old to the young, from the presumed equal citizen to the necessarily different stranger, like invisible molecules of an air that we make year after year more irrespirable.
Before getting to seriously erase other people's lives, these are words that divide and hurt, like those of Matteo Salvini when he says that there are too many foreigners, asking more space for Italian kids, and when he adds that since there are 1.5 million Muslims in Italy, there would therefore be almost 50,000 potential terrorists among us.
These are words that discriminate and offend, like those of Donald Trump, who claims that (Mexicans) are not our friends, they bring drugs and crime, that people arriving in the US from Haiti have AIDS and those from Nigeria should go back to their huts in Africa.
These are words that intend to scare the most impressionable creatures and foment the most vulnerable souls, such as those of Marine Le Pen when she exclaims: "We say no to this immigration that submerges our countries and endangers the security of our peoples, of our bank accounts, of our values of civilization. We want to live in our countries as we want: in France as French, in Italy as Italians."
In one word, these are racist words, like those of Viktor Orbán when he declares that in the country he governs we do not need migrants, but Hungarian children.
These are ignorant, but above all infamous words, like those of Boris Johnson, who is convinced that since we have to legalize gay marriage, then I see nothing wrong with legalizing marriages between three men, or between three men and a dog. Before arguing that the children of single mothers are illegitimate.
These are words that exclude and discriminate in a completely inhuman way, like the ones of Geert Wilders when he wishes a Holland for Henk and Ingrid, not for Ahmed and Fatima.
Or even simply idiotic words, but no less dangerous, like those of Nigel Farage, when without any shame he says that women are worth less, it is right they earn less, they have the maternity pause.
These and many others are words that maybe do not kill, but are the result of a rotten and poisonous fruit of powerful leaders, most of them guide entire nations and sow hatred and feed hardships in millions of people.
They are a fundamental part of the same ignoble speech that leads to the extermination of innocent lives.
Do you know what is the most grotesque and disturbing aspect of this scenario? We have already seen it in past centuries, starting with the last one...


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Thursday, February 13, 2020

The day without observances

Stories and News No. 1189
 
Today is the thirteenth of February.
We are in the middle of the day, which refers to as many observances to remember and give homage.
In fact, today is the Children's Day in Myanmar and the Radio Day in the world.
Reflecting on the past, on mistakes, especially where these are sinful sins, is a fundamental matter. The first ingredient inside the bricks with which to compose the road that, hopefully, will lead us to a better future.
Nonetheless, raising my head and aiming a hopeful look at the horizon awaiting us, I cannot help but dream of myself there, beyond the obstacles and above all the walls that prevent us from seeing where we are wrong now, even before passing.
There must be an instant, down there, in which some victories against our current backwardness have been obtained so definitively as to be useless and even ridiculous to talk about it.
Solid points of living together that we will not need to recall them. As if today we should decide to celebrate the Day against human sacrifices, the one against the ius primae noctis or the Day of cesarean section.
Let's try to dream together, then. Close your eyes, take my hand and let's jump forward, with the hope of not having to go too far.
On that updated version of our planet, perhaps within the confines of this same millennium, we will no longer feel the need to commemorate the

victims of the Holocaust, because we will have perfectly understood not only the atrocity and madness of genocide, but above all the dangerous as undervalued assumptions that preceded it.
On that normal day, we will not wait for Women's Day because for the latter it will finally be worth the same and identical reason for which there is no one dedicated to men. And we will apply the same concept with regard to violence against women.
In that radiant future, of which I envy the inhabitants, there will be no Day against Bullying, since we will have identified and dealt with the causes. And we will see the Day against homophobia as that relating to an incredibly absurd fear, like seeing the stars falling on us or that the sun disappearing at any moment.
Earth Day will then be remembered, but as the most illogical of all. Otherwise, how stupid could be a species that must remember to care for its planet?
Peace would be the main objective, everywhere and at all times, so shared that celebrating it would be like praising the need to breathe.
The Day against racism will be anachronistic stuff, since the alleged races, the overrated shades of complexion and somatic characteristics, will be so nuanced that we will have taken the decision to delete terms such as racism and discrimination from the vocabulary, to give space to new, essential and vital words, still hidden under the skin that divides instead of uniting us.
We will have put together so many miles of intuitions and reasoning between the concept of war and its incongruous foundation as a solution, to celebrate the Day against it for the very last time.
We will not be perfect or even gods, we will live a mortal and still short life, if compared to the infinity that surrounds us, but we will have stopped setting the Day of social justice and that of children's rights on the calendar.
As with the human sacrifices mentioned above, we will have once and for all rendered the Day against child labor useless. Do you realize that we are in 2020 and we look with a sense of superiority to the people of the past, while we still have to remember that making children work is wrong? And that selling human beings as if they were objects is ignoble action?
In that bright time when you and I will hover, even if only for a short time, instead, everything will be different and much will have been overcome.
We will have stopped making justice for someone who committed a crime, committing the same crime, since we will have abolished the Day against the death penalty, after having eliminated the latter.
It will be a mere matter of human evolution, normal achievements, which will take away the task of having to celebrate the Day of zero tolerance towards female genital mutilation or that for the abolition of slavery.
Solidarity and water, freedom of the press and the environment, human and elderly rights, all this will be a daily priority and no longer a newspaper headline, recycled from the previous year, or the pretext for an effective slogan only during the dedicated anniversary.
They will be discounted and fundamental themes for real, like washing your hands when you you’re back from school or work, even if there is a day for this too.
Well, now that we have to reopen our eyes, think about how nice it would be to raise our eyelids in that possible future and to the question ‘what day is today’ to answer: it is an ordinary one, a day like many others.
It's today, but it's called tomorrow.


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Thursday, February 6, 2020

How are you?

Stories and News No. 1188
 
Hey? You’re welcome, here.
Yes, I’m talking to you, not everybody, of course, but in this case I said you, even if in general.
You, who scream or whisper, posting and chirping, sideways or secretly observing.
Take a seat.
Imagine that I am a friend or a kind of shrink, although maybe I’m neither.
What did you say?
No, I'm not kidding at all, I'm serious, despite everything.
Sit down, come on.
Let's talk.
That is, speak, let all come out, do it now, please.
Tell me, then, let's start with the classic.




What was your childhood like?
You had your hard times, didn't you?
Problems with dad? Misunderstandings with mom?
Domineering brothers? Little affectionate sisters?
Are you an only child?
Was the affection missing?
Unleash yourself without fear, really, stop living in fright, you can no longer take all this concern.
Aren't you tired too?
Come on, then, let's move on.
There was something bad during adolescence? Look, it's a tough time for everyone, you know?
The first radical transformations, physical and emotional, it is a leap into the void without parachutes for anyone, believe me.
Classmates? Difficulty with peers in school? Or maybe with the teachers? Have they been too hard on you?
Did you socialize in those years? How did it go with your relatives? Cousins, aunts, grandparents... what is the relationship with the latter?
Was there enough dialogue in your family in the years of growth?
It is important to have at least one reference adult to confide in, as a child, it is universal.
What were your models?
Did I get it? Is the flaw there?
Sorry, forgive me, but I seriously want us to go further and face the real problems.
Yours, obviously.
Do you understand me? The time has come to start looking in the mirror and take your responsibilities.
In fact, the moment would have come a long time ago... but I'm not here to polemicize.
I want to help you, I'm sincere.
Was it hard to find your place in the world?
How did it end up with your studies? How far have you come? Beyond the importance of receiving adequate education, school is the first test for many personal aspects that will come into play in every area, such as the way we face the imposed goals of society and we react to constraints and predefined structures.
Hobby? Passions? Has there ever been anything after the duties that particularly attracted you? Gratified? Involved body and soul?
Nothing?
What about the job side? Do you have one? And in such a case, do you feel fulfilled in what you do? Are you satisfied with the compensation? The role?
What about the relationship with the place of work and colleagues? Are you happy to go there or can't you wait to go home?
What occupies your time for most of the week, whether it's school, rather than work, or what you do or don't do at home, has enormous, I would say almost absolute, influence on your state of mind and your mainly recurring thoughts.
How is your love life?
Do you care for someone? Are your feelings matched? Do you live with people you get along with? Do you feel esteemed, considered, respected?
Heard?
All this also has a significant weight on your life, in every moment.
How do you see your near future?
And the far one?
Do you have dreams? It is essential – pay attention to it, to have something stimulating and exciting on the horizon, at any age.
In short, when you arrive at the end of the day and close your eyes, do you have concrete reasons to appreciate the idea of opening them the day after?
...
Sorry for all these questions, you know, but they were a must. They are and always will be. They are crucial for anyone, anywhere, from the beginning to the end of our days.
Because if at least one answer causes you suffering or any kind of unease, well, please stop focusing your attention on migrants, foreigners in general, other religions or different sexual orientations, in other words, different creatures from you in any aspect.
In the case dilemmas with painful solutions are more than one, the advice is more than double. In fact, to be honest, if you sometimes need to talk about someone other than yourself, shut up, look inside, and try to get better.
Trust me on this, it would be good for you and billions of other human beings...


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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Who are the racists?

Stories and News No. 1187
 
We are in the kitchen of a normal apartment, sheltered by a very ordinary door, maybe next to yours.
Inside there is a father and a son like many others.
Or perhaps, like some very precise ones, because of an overestimated crossing of lights and electromagnetic radiation called skin colour.
The two are at dinner. Mom is still at work, but she will be back soon and everything will be back in place.
In the meantime, the man does what he can.
"Dad?" Says the boy, ten years of curiosity and desire to go beyond the unspoken.
"Yes, Ephrem."
"Who are the racists?"
"We've already talked about it, I remember."
To be honest, the man is right, since the unavoidable topic had already been addressed some months ago. Blessed is the family that enjoys the benefit of postponing or even avoiding the most uncomfortable conversations.
"No, Dad, I'm not saying the meaning of racism, the other time you talked about it for an hour..."
"Sorry, but it's an important thing, right?"
"Yes, right, but... you know, when I’m out at school, on the basketball yard or at the park, well, there is a fact that I have not understood..."
"Ephrem", exclaims the father immediately attentive, finally giving up his fork. "Did something happen to you? Please, tell me..."
Also the child abandons his pasta and – a typical feature of his personal set of gestures, he frowns and crosses his arms on his chest in an almost adult way.
“I don't understand. Everyone, the teacher, the coach, even my classmates, movies and cartoons, the books that they make us read and those that you and mommy bought me, they all say that racism is a wrong thing, there those advertise too... those with good purpose..."
"Do you mean public service announcement?"
“Yes, and then there are also those videos with

actors, rock stars and even football players, they all seem to be against racism. So why are there still racists around? Who are them?"
The father is moved not by one, but a whole fleet of different and contrasting emotions and sensations. Among them, he is impressed and also proud of his son's depth of thought, but at the same time he is also frightened. Because if his test as a parent turns out to be like that when Ephrem is just ten years old, what will he be asked in the days to come?
Nonetheless, the man has a weapon to his advantage and it regards the presumed chromatic peculiarity mentioned above that he shares with his child. Despite at different times, he had the identical opportunity to confront the same doubts and after reflecting calmly he tries to answer in the least rhetorical possible way.
“You see, Ephrem, maybe you’re not going to hear what I am about to tell you, out of here. So, consider it as a sort of personal dictionary with which to identify people who – despite without openly confessing it, they discriminate others basing their beliefs on how they are made or what their origins are. As you have just explained, most of our fellow citizens hardly describe themselves as racist. Let’s say never, okay? But at the same time, often with pride, they admit it using other definitions. Well, many of the latter are just further ways to declare their racism without being criticized. "
"Can you give me some examples?"
"Examples?" Exclaims the man before letting out a short laugh escape. “I have plenty of them. You know, in this country, you can be nationalist but not fascist, secessionist but not necessarily patriotic, etc., but everyone has one thing in common. "
"Which one?"
“They are all racists, Ephrem, underneath, or in a perfectly consequential way. But they don't have enough courage or honesty to say it. Thus, they hide behind accepted and nowadays even praised words, despite the fact that in the past they have even been associated with terrible persons. "
"What words are you talking about, dad?"
What should be a normal speech of a father to his son, inevitably becomes a kind of heartfelt and very much attended outburst.
“I’m talking about the nationalist, who venerates borders and walls, with which to keep people necessarily different away from him. The so-called sovereignist, who obviously prefers the idea of being able to do what he wants within the shelter of the aforementioned lines on the map, or to behave with impunity as an intolerant towards foreigners. What is the identitarian, Ephrem, if not someone who has got an extreme need to catalog people basing on superficial and marginal criteria such as skin? What do you think the conservative wants to keep intact if not the right to feel superior to others? Just as the traditionalist would do everything to avoid losing his unjust birth privileges. The patriot stands as a bulwark of his land and State, but in reality he’s thinking about the favorite features he sees every day in the mirror. Not to mention the capitalist, who we could consider one of the founding fathers of racism, see the latter as one of his most successful tools to possess the goods and means that he has seized with a fraud called private property. And what about the nativist, the worshiper of the birth certificate as an element of distinction, that is, a racist on paper? Obviously, the authoritarian, who invokes the strong man who will allow him to insult and bully the people without legal permission. I could add, of course, fascist and dictatorial, colonialist and warmonger. They are all racists in complementary but coherent ways. But in your opinion, in our country, from who the secessionist wants to separate if not those whom he considers inferior? And the anti globalist? Do you think that that he wants to keep away Korean mobile phones and Japanese cars, or the wretched people that his own country he has contributed to making so? The isolationist will not close before great TV series or German beer, but only in front of the hand that rightly asks for help, if not restitution. This is where the protectionist was born, in the urgent need to assist the stolen goods. That's where the negationist and the revisionist come from, from the desire to hide their visceral racism exposed by history..."
Well, only at this point the father realizes that his son is having a hard time following him, even though at the beginning he understood the essence of his reasoning.
"Forgive me, Ephrem, I lost myself a little..."
"Yes, dad, almost like the last time," confirms the boy relaxing and showing an understanding smile. "When you talked for an hour."
At that moment they hear the beloved sound of the key. Good news, mom is back.
The woman enters the kitchen and after saying goodbye to both she notices an unexpected silence.
"Are you all right?" She asks curious.
"All right," replies Ephrem making everyone happy. "Dad just explained to me that there are many racists around us, but precisely since they are racists they are afraid to admit it and then they hide behind other words."
"Really?" Asks the woman to her husband with a doubtful expression.
"Almost", says the man fondling his son's curly head affectionately and with renewed pride. "But I hope one day to have his ease in understanding and above all telling things."


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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Let's not hurt each other too much

Stories and News No. 1186
 
Maybe it's because now I have more white hair in my head than just gray.
Maybe it's because I prefer the surprise, the real freshness, than what I have already read and seen.
Maybe because the more time passes, the more I focus my attention on the glass itself, rather than swinging between the full and the empty part.
Or maybe, I just have a great desire to go beyond the actual news and observe the whole long-range story, taking advantage of the vision of the past in the precious rear-view mirror called memory, before even in my case it starts to falter.
By way of example, think about so called leaders like Donald Trump, Putin or our Matteo Salvini.
Right now, in the heart of the live broadcast, for many everything seems normal.
Since their arrival on the public scenario they did or told so many crazy things, but each time we suddenly became used to that.
In a few words, it happens, so it is normal.
Like it was normal, in their time, the things people like Hitler or Stalin did e said.
However, escaping a moment to take refuge on this page, sheltered from unfortunately contemporary conventions, when we look each other in the eyes we will perfectly remember that there is nothing normal in all of that, then and now.

Indeed, what we should think about with more care is the fundamental outline, rather than the protagonists.
Not just them, but all the people who work and live around them.
All those who know inside that there is nothing normal, but it's okay, because that's what it is right now.
Do you know what? I will be guilty of naivety, but I am convinced that as more or less intimately aware of the absurdity of the moment, the support this kind of leaders is getting is not something absolute.
Those are not real votes, but rather screams, spits and regurgitations, what their leaders have invoked since they came out on the field. They were not the first and will not be the last.
But like their predecessors, you will see – I am ready to bet what you want, they will also fall down and the more they will continue to make noise, the more their defeat will be thunderous. It won't be tomorrow and the next day, but it will happen soon, trust me.
Immediately afterwards things will get a little more normal again, not entirely, because it has never happened and will never do, knowing us.
Still, it will not last long, because over time another profiteer of malaise and ignorance will emerge, capable of moving the level of decency even lower, and he will win.
But I'm sure, in the end he will fall too.
And so on, hoping that in the meantime we would deal more radically with the world environment and our species.
Hoping that in the meantime we won't hurt each other too much...


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

The world through the world

Stories and News No. 1185
 
Once upon a time the world.
The one as we saw it as children, when everything we look at with our tiny eyes was already infinite, let alone what we still ignored and fantasized about.
Then things changed. They say it's the age that changes us. I believe other people do, more than time. The mechanical turn of the hands has never affected our history. The human beings that flow by us unexpectedly, at times illogical and often violent, but sometimes capable of incalculable tenderness, are the ones to influence our future, second by second.
One of the most decisive aspects regarding choices and thoughts, the feelings on which to focus the heart and which emotions to keep away from the intellect, it’s the screen through which we observe the world.
It is not always the same and probably that’s right. Every look, in each chapter of our personal story, needs the appropriate filter. The metaphorical glasses to look at the best, here and now, are chosen by searching the image that intrigues us, that is capable of making us think, but what our pupils will not stop craving with absolute priority are the plots able to give us relief from the pains accumulated since the first cry.
All of this could be summarized in “the world through which we observe the world”.

In a moment of conscious clarity, thinking that in

the most privileged corners of the planet – from where I write these words of mine – we prefer to contemplate life beyond us through a cold monitor, regardless of the resolution and the number of inches, it makes me sad.

Because there was a time that we can't forget, during which we watch everything with our own eyes. And because a huge number of our fellow humans on earth, by accident or by bad luck, sometimes due to our ignorant responsibility, are forced to scrutinize their surroundings through many other windows.

Like the lines that intertwined with each other
make up a cell, despite the prisoners are guilty of nothing but survival.

Like the smoke of the fire that burns and destroys, fragment after fragment, the perfect dream of a naive planet.

Like sea water that in an unnatural way, but we
should say inhuman, it replaces the sky and the latter is canceled from the story, as if it had never existed.
And maybe it would have been better so.

Like a blanket of dust that tastes of poverty, misery but still hope, in which we should have the honesty to enter, before talking about who lives there, or worse, they were born.

Like the space above a wall, the vital cracks and
the precious holes in it, which denounce its weakness and, hopefully, madness.

Like tears, but not temporary ones, which come and go in the same way as the rainy seasons, in a form of a perennial veil of inalienable sadness. For for some, remembering means having respect for pain, so that posterity will keep both intact.
And so on looking.

Nonetheless, thanks to the gift or deception from the magic called technology, in the world I live we may have the feeling of looking at everything on the comfortable and reassuring side of a transparent screen.
It doesn't hurt, in fact.
But once the spell is extinguished, we should remember that the world through the world is really out there, living or dying, yearning or rejoicing, with a fast beating heart before the imminent danger or with the arms in the sky in front of the windfall called fresh and clean water.
Maybe, every now and then, we should find an opportunity to rely only on them.
Our simple eyes from the past, and see the world through them again.


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Thursday, January 9, 2020

The weight of small numbers

Stories and News No. 1184
 
Once we called it the law of large numbers.
Today, it is the slavery of exaggerations.
It is a consequence, after all. One of the most uncomfortable contraindications of the unbridled rush to approximation of our lies.
Because many of us live on lies, today. Often venial, sometimes more serious, but that’s Internet, we’re on a social media, then I could delete, right? Indeed, that’s something better: I may write another one! And so on. Moved by the illusion of really going away.
And yet, at the dawn of the new year, I still like to see it as a story.
The fable of small numbers, of course.
Which hardly get the front page of the news and it is understandable. There are many examples: to make noise we need to be many, to be truly

successful, a prize is not enough, but a lot, and to attract the gaze of the average reader you need at least thousands of pixels, otherwise he doesn’t even believe the truth.
Give me the biggest number you have, that is the question and the answer comes, without sources, without heart and restraint.
Like more than 180 arsonists invented to deny climate change in Australia.
Or at least 80 dead soldiers bragged to prove that the war has being waged at least in two, and not a single planet against itself.
Nothing out of the ordinary, it's been the rule so far and maybe we got used to that too, I think.
I refer to the number of people protesting that night basing on the retouched photo, rather than the usual confirmations from the police headquarters.
I am talking about of how much he or she earns, it doesn't matter who, it doesn't matter why, as long as we can follow them on Instagram or Twitter and get into the light that emanates from those perfect creatures, as the ancient Greeks did with the gods of Olympus.
Of course, how not to mention the amount of followers and likes.
The number of bytes of memory on the new processor inside the new cellphone that does the same things as the old one, but more quickly, can you believe it?
The speed of the new city car from the new car maker, fusion of the usual old two houses, which does the same things as your first car, but more quickly, can you see it?
The figures on prime time ratings, even if traditional TV becomes every day more a household appliance of the last century.
However, there are also striking quantities that are consciously ignored.
It is the theory of relativity of consciousness, where the only reference system that matters does not cross the boundary of our apartment.
How many refugees died drowned last year trying to touch the shore closest to their illusions, rather than their hopes?
How many people suffer from hunger and thirst between one solidarity marathon and another?
How many lives are torn from the world like leaves by the wind in non-marketable attacks and how many more are there, now, on the edge of the ravine, between the end and one of the many, possible continuations on the path of a fragile survival?
Well, I said at the beginning, it's true. The risk of becoming accustomed to the common doing is high, because this comes from the overload of connection between our virtual versions.
Nevertheless, sometimes, we can still make our own independent choices.
I dare say ancient, but I don't want to seem older than I am.
To dwell on the one, instead of the many, or even all of them.
Like a boy getting on a plane in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa.
To sit down, so to speak, on the only place guaranteed to those like him, small and negligible numbers.
His latest class, more than first, second or even third: the undercarriage.
He leaves, but he will never arrived in Paris. Not him, not what could have been and nothing of what he would have written with his life that we will never read.
Close your eyes now, open your hands to the sky and imagine with me that boy in your arms.
If you feel the weight, all the incalculable weight, despite the noise of the vast and abundant rest, well, I would be inclined to believe that maybe there is still some hope for humanity...


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